File: DA leader John Steenhuisen.
JOHANNESBURG - DA leader John Steenhuisen insists DA MP Phumzile Van Damme's sabbatical was not forced on her.
Steenhuisen also says the decision is not racially-based.
The party insists Van Damme agreed to the sabbatical because of continued health concerns.
"I really genuinely believe it's in the best interest of Ms. Van Damme to focus on her health without the distraction of work and given this is a quiet time period, this is the ideal time to take it," he said.
"There was no forced sabbatical if she didn't want to take it then she didn't have to take it."
Van Damme is taking legal action against the party for putting her on a sabbatical she says she never requested.